It seems like the absolute perfect week to cover this, with Avengers: Infinity War cusping on one billion dollars (insert Dr. Evil clip here), to praise the beginning of this whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man, as well as the bookend on the Tony Stark trilogy. Both films celebrate anniversaries as Iron Man 3 came out five years ago this week and both films did big things for the MCU as well as the cast involved. Tony Stark/Iron Man is the lynchpin of this entire cavalcade of films we have been gifted and, as comic fans, we now live in a world where something like this exists and it’s unlike nothing I a young Steve could have dreamed of.
To think that we almost had a Tom Cruise led Iron Man movie is almost incomprehensible ten years after the fact because I don’t think this whole universe would have been sustainable with him at the head. I mean, we kind of saw this with the collapse of Universal’s Dark Universe but Robert Downey Jr. was tailor fit for the role of Iron Man and, most importantly, Tony Stark himself. It was his redemption in the eyes of the world and it also lent a bit of realism to his portrayal of Stark. Relevant to Downey, Stark returns from his ordeal in the middle east that almost cost him his life and has to battle the public opinion of his former self in order to make his present and future self a person to be looked at as a hero and one that would save the world again and again. This is the metaphor of his father’s business partner and acting CEO of Stark Industries Obadiah Stane trying to kill him.
Iron Man is a landmark film which should be held in the highest regard. It pushed director Jon Favreau to a new level of blockbuster filmmaking and started the Avengers Initiative, something that new comic fans, ten and under, have known their entire life. That is absolutely impressive and something I think we’ve largely forgotten about until this year. The care that Downey, Favreau and Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige have for their characters, this universe and everything contained in it are felt in every frame of film. This even extended to their friends, which is the big reason one of my favorite writers turned director Shane Black decided to play in this sandbox too.
In the third installment, Tony is dealing with severe PTSD from his descent through a wormhole holding a nuke in The Avengers. This provides the perfect opportunity for The Mandarin to destroy everything Tony holds close to him, like his Malibu home, all of his Iron Man suits, his control over his business and his relationship with the love of his life, Pepper Potts. Okay, maybe a couple of those can be put directly on Tony’s shoulders but you get the point, there’s a lot of turmoil. Iron Man 3 is a film that rubbed some people the wrong way, especially those faithful to the character of The Mandarin, but I really enjoyed it. Maybe it was that twist or that Shane Black’s brilliant buddy comedy writing created a bond between Tony and a young boy out of nowhere that was incredibly endearing. I always find myself standing up for this film and most likely always will.
As my wife and I embark on another journey through all eighteen movies leading up to the all-out Infinity War again, I implore you to do the same and, really, keep those rose colored glasses on for them because, at the end of the day, they are, if nothing, absolutely fun with a man that relishes every moment he’s on screen. In Tony’s high priced suit or Iron Man’s higher priced battle armor, this is pure escapism and it will always have a home in my heart. I love the MCU.